Because I “chased the dream” of becoming a Division I head basketball coach, I moved around a lot - to the tune of 11 different addresses before I was 30. Granted, some of them were within the city limits of the town in which I was working, but the point is, it wasn’t surprising my former classmates (from Highland Park High School - see yesterday’s blog regarding life in HP) had lost touch with me.
Therefore, it was purely coincidental that I would be in attendance at our 25th high school reunion (to my knowledge the one and only reunion the HPHS class of ‘66 has had). It was 1991 and I, along with my wife of four years and our two-year-old son, had just moved (my 15th) from Toledo, OH to Pasadena. I had recently been named associate head basketball coach at USC and was in the middle of a recruiting trip that, on that particular day, had me in Linden, NJ, no more than a half hour from Highland Park.
As I did any time I got into town (borough), I had called a friend of mine from way back. Although we lived around the block from each other, we never attended the same school, his family opting to send him and his seven siblings to parochial schools, while I went the public school route. Naturally, it was sports, mainly Little League baseball, that began our relationship.
After getting my rental car at Newark Airport, I drove to his house (most recently, we had worked together at HPHS - when I returned to my alma mater after graduating college and him following suit the next year). When I arrived, he asked me if I had planned on going to my high school reunion.
“What are you talking about?” I asked him. Then, I did the math and realized it had, indeed, been 25 years since we’d graduated. “Are you serious?”
He said, “Vic (a mutual friend) called me and said he was in town for his wife’s (one of our classmates) 25-year reunion.”
At that time, nearly all college coaches who made home or school visits did so in tie and jacket, so I did happen to have the right attire for the affair. Since my appointment was in the afternoon, I had plenty of time to do my job, come back and get ready. Although I wasn’t on the list of RSVP’s, I was on the sheet as a ‘66 grad, so I bought a ticket and walked into the ballroom at the Hyatt Regency - where I was absolutely taken aback. With the exception of one guy, these people looked great! While I thought I had taken decent care of myself (which wasn’t so easy - working long days, many of which were on the road, filled with fast food meals, ashamedly, some of my favorite establishments), these guys were looking so much younger than I expected. Of course, like me, several of the
boys men had their hair thinned and their waists thickened, but all in all, the years had been rather kind. I can remember thinking how terrific the ladies looked - and I thought they looked good in high school!
Stories, and business cards, were exchanged and, while I can’t remember specifics, the overall memory of the evening brings a smile to my face every time I’m reminded of it.
Yesterday, the blog wrapped up with a Jewish proverb. Today’s quote is also a proverb, this of the Swedish variety:
“Friendship doubles our joy and divides our grief.”